The second week of June is now in the books, and recent sessions were welcome relief to investors who had become accustomed to watching stocks and commodities plunge across the board. Most major benchmarks finished the week flat as worries over Greece and a debt contagion in Europe continue to be the main focus for market participants. A deal remains in the works in order to pump more cash into the Greek system in order to keep the country afloat, but nothing is set in stone and the uncertainty resulting from the disagreements over the path forward may hang over global stock markets.
Thanks to this volatility in the currency markets and questions over demand, commodity markets were especially volatile. Safe haven products such as gold and silver saw big jumps but soft commodities and oil were hard hit on the week. In fact, oil finished the week close to the $93/bbl. level, a mark that hasn’t been seen in WTI markets since January.
This week, look for investors to once again focus on Europe, as any resolution to the Greek crisis will likely be major news and will impact markets around the world. Beyond Greece, a few central bank reports look to come out over the next few days including minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia as well as the Bank of England. In terms of actual meetings, both the Norges Bank and the Federal Reserve will have policy meetings, giving investors updates on rates for these two developed nations (Norway and the U.S.). In addition to further clarification on rates, investors will also look for the Fed to detail further its plans to end QE2 at the end of the month. Some are speculating that Bernanke will be forced to continue the program in some form thanks to the sluggish economy. But others believe that such a move would likely be catastrophic to market confidence, making this Fed meeting one of the more important ones in recent memory. Beyond this, a few companies will also give their quarterly reports, potentially influencing key industries such as the transports and retail. With this backdrop, investors should look for the following three ETFs to be in for an active week:
Global X FTSE Norway 30 ETF (NORW)
Why NORW Will Be In Focus: This ETF tracks the FTSE Norway 30 Index, a group of companies that are designed to reflect broad based equity market performance in Norway. This market has seen modest gains earlier in the year only to slump back in recent weeks, including a nearly 5% loss in the last week alone. This swift drop is likely due to tumbling crude prices - Norway is one of the world’s top 10 exporters of the product - and continued weakness in many of the country’s key trading partners to the south.
While any changes in crude prices will undoubtedly impact this fund that has close to 44% of its assets in energy companies, the meeting of the Norges Bank is also likely to weigh on NORW as well. The central bank has already raised rates twice this year and many anticipate that the bank will hold off on any more increases for the time being. This is because the krone remains strong and inflation is relatively tame; further increases could weaken exports even more, potentially hurting the Norwegian economy. Thanks to this reality, any comments form the Bank on rate hikes further down the road could play on this fund and potentially force NORW to continue its recent string of bad luck.
PowerShares DB USD Index Bullish Fund (UUP)
Why UUP Will Be In Focus: This week could be a very important one for the U.S. dollar, as both the Federal Reserve gives its decision on rates and the country’s GDP growth is released for the most recent quarter. These two data points could set the short-term trend for the greenback, either helping the fund to continue its recent strength, or plunge back to its longer term trend of weakness. The Fed meeting looks to attract significant attention due to the slowing pace of recovery in the market and the growing speculation of a QE3 program being implemented by the central bank. If there is any hint of this being the case, UUP could slump heavily as it would signal to many that the Fed has no confidence in the global economic recovery and that further easy money policies are needed to boost the country. Furthermore, it should be noted that UUP’s underlying index is long the dollar against a basket of global currencies, of which nearly 55% is short euro exposure. As a result, any further clarification on the eurozone situation could have a huge impact on this fund as well.
iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT)
Why IYT Will Be In Focus: Slumping crude prices have been a boon for the transportation industry, helping to increase margins in an otherwise sluggish environment. In fact, although the S&P 500 was more or less flat last week, IYT was up nearly 2%, suggesting that crude’s nearly $7/bbl drop in the period was a generally positive development for the fund. In addition to further moves based on the price of oil, IYT could be in focus this week thanks to an earnings report from one of its key components. FedEx (FDX), one of the world’s largest package delivery firms. The company reports earnings before the bell on Wednesday, potentially moving IYT in the process since FDX makes up one of the top five holdings of the fund. If FedEx is able to beat earnings and give good guidance, and if oil remains subdued, look for IYT to have another strong week.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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